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I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Last Vote

At Fox News, Chad Pergram has a nice vignette on the last vote of the season:

The bouquet of jet fuel is a powerful essence on Capitol Hill. As soon as members think there's a chance they can hit the exits for a long Congressional break, the jet fuel aroma permeates the Capitol. And lawmakers grow antsy.

The scent certainly wafted through the air Wednesday afternoon. But not so much because lawmakers were hell-bent on escaping Washington. Instead, it was to accommodate just one lawmaker flying in. Exclusively for this vote.

The 9-11 vote was crucial to her. And even more critical to many of the constituents she represents.

At 5:32 pm, Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) strolled into the chamber. Without removing his long trench coat, Austria voted aye. The tally board flipped to 205-60, the first time it moved in more than 40 minutes.

Austria crossed the chamber to the Republican side.

"You weren't the one we were waiting on," said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) to Austria.

Conaway was right.

And a moment later, in the back of the chamber appeared Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). Velazquez voted yes. The tally board advanced to 206-60. And Edwards closed the vote at 5:36 pm. One hour and 16 minutes after it began.

The House is currently comprised of 434 members with one vacancy. And 168 members didn't vote Wednesday, including Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-OH). But Velazquez wasn't about to be one of 168 MIA members. And especially not on this vote. Instead, Velazquez rushed back to Washington from her native Puerto Rico where the Congresswoman was caring for her 90-year-old mother, stricken with bleeding ulcers.

Velazquez landed at Dulles International Airport in the Washington suburbs around 4:20 pm. Right about the time the vote started. Fighting DC's notorious rush hour traffic, the New York Democrat then raced to the Capitol and entered the building wearing track pants, New Balance running shoes and no coat. Velazquez voted and then turned to leave, visibly shaken, her eyes moist from tears.

I caught Velazquez just before she headed back down the House steps and asked why it was so essential for her to come back.

"I was torn between two important things that I care about," said Velazquez, choking back tears. "My mother and the 9-11 responders."

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